Dry Season and Bush Burning

THE current period in West Africa including Nigeria is one that is known as dry season.  It is a season combining harmattan with its distinct weather conditions and characteristics of health challenges, extreme dryness and hotness that are usually accompanied with devastating bush burning that often consume economic trees such as cocoa, palm trees and others. It is therefore plausible to warn and educate the citizenry on the danger inherent in dry season that occurs between the end of November and the middle of March every year in this part of the world.

HARMMATTAN is characterized by the dry and dusty northeasterly trade wind, of the same name, which blows from the Sahara over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea. The Harmattan brings desert-like weather conditions: it lowers the humidity, dissipates cloud cover, prevents rainfall formation and sometimes creates big clouds of dust which can result in dust storms or sandstorms. In a nutshell,harmattan season is one in which  dryness of the environment, leaves and every object, material, including human occurs, which makes it very easy for fire to spread at every given opportunity. The wind can increase fire risk and cause severe crop and property damage. Thus over the years many parts of  Nigeria have been witnessing destructive fire outbreaks through bush burning by farmers and hunters in their quest to earn their living.

IT should be emphasized that  Harmattan season has adverse effects on human health and comfort generally beside increasing fire outbreaks. During the period, there are usually wide spread of airborne diseases coupled with the dryness of  the human skin.  Children are mostly dehydrated. It is on the above basis that The Hope  seeks to draw the attention of Nigerians to the dangers associated with harmattan season that is prevalent at the moment in the country so as to be able to desist from actions that could cause and instigate wildfire especially bush burning during the current ongoing harmattan season. This is because harmattan season comes with strong winds that could lead to wildfire from uncontrolled and indiscriminate bush burning that are usually undertaken during the period by farmers preparing for new planting season and hunters in their attempts to hunt for bush meat.

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OVER the years the consequences of recurring bush burning have been grave and devastating during the dry season. It has caused damage to power network spans destructing electricity supply to Nigerians, disrupting of vast economic plantations such as cocoa, forests, neighbourhoods, and farmlands. It has also resulted in  loss of lives and other valuable property across the country. Since fire outbreak occurs more with most devastating effects during the harmattan season through bush burning by farmers and hunters, it becomes imperative to educate and warn  the people on the need to take precautions to prevent fire outbreak more so that we are at the peak of dry season.

TO prevent the debilitating destructive effects of fire outbreak through bush burning during this season, there is the need for proactive actions to prevent their occurrences and mitigating actions to stop, curtail and reduce their impacts. The people, especially farmers and hunters, should desist from indiscriminate burning of bush and if they must burn  bushes, it must be properly controlled and supervised. Members of the public should equip their houses, cars, and business premises with basic firefighting equipment such as fire extinguishers and bucket sand that are relatively cheap, and available at affordable prices.

THE Fire Service at all levels and other emergence response agencies should be appropriately equipped to be able to respond quickly to emergency during fire outbreak and the must be alive to their responsibilities to be effective  to be able to control and stop it. There is the need for more effective legislation and monitoring to prevent bush burning especially during the harmattan.

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